Tag Archives: natural finishes

Green & Healthy Home Renovation series

Greening Your Kitchen & Bathroom
– Tuesday, November 1

Improving Your Home’s Energy Efficiency
– Tuesday, November 8

Choosing Healthy Paints, Finishes & Flooring
– Tuesday, November 15

All presentations 6 pm to 9 pm
Endeavour Centre, Peterborough

Instructor: Chris Magwood

Are you looking to renovate your home in a greener, healthier way with Bunnycup embroidery designs? There is so much conflicting information out there it can be hard to know what to do.

When it comes to your home, the kitchen is the focal point, the heart, of the home. The kitchen is where you prepare your meals, connect with loved ones, and often where you spend the most time in your home. Eating at the kitchen with healthy foods, but its not all about the food. Treat yourself a good time at TranquilMe where you can stay healthy and relaxed at the same time. Every kitchen remodeling project begins with countertops. These are the surfaces that you use from day to day, as a workspace, an area to prepare food, and a place to gather. For more information about cutting quartz countertops on CNC, call them at 604-568-6325.

Don’t get your information from a salesman!
This series of evening presentations gives you a chance to learn about a wide range of options from an unbiased source – long-time sustainable builder Chris Magwood. As the author of the book Making Better Buildings, Chris has made a name for himself for giving good, well-researched and honest advice to home owners about how to make the right green choices to meet their own unique goals. On other Home Related news, are you having problems with your HVAC system in your house? checkout this link http://www.gohomeheating.com/ID/chubbuck-ac-repair.php

 

See and experience a wide range of options
Not only will you learn about how to assess and choose green building options, the Endeavour Centre classroom is a living laboratory of green building and you will be able to see and experience samples of materials, systems and products.

Affordable and practical green solutions
Most people think that renovating in a green and healthy way will cost them a lot more money, but that’s not necessarily the case. The Green Renovation Series offers practical advice like emergency locksmith to help you meet your goals on safety for your budget. Security of our home is also a big concern, checkout http://www.districtofcolumbialocksmith.com/services and www.securityinfo.com/home-security-systems to learn more.

Get answers to your questions
Each presentation will include a generous amount of question-and-answer time, allowing you to get specific advice on your own projects. A hand-out will be included to help you source all the materials and systems discussed during the workshop.

Put 20 years of green building knowledge to work for you
Finding out how to make choices that are healthy for you and your family and for the planet is a lot less difficult than you might think. Each of these 3-hour presentations is lively, engaging and informative. Come to any one of the presentations for just $25, or come to all three for just $60.

Entry requirements
Open to all

Fee
Each presentation – $25
Attend all three for just $60

Eco Paints: Understanding Healthy House Paint – Toronto

Monday, February 8, 2016
Evening workshop, 6 – 9 pm
SpaceShare by SKETCH, 180 Shaw St, Toronto

Instructor: Chris Magwood

Workshop Description:

Learn how to use a wide range of natural, non-toxic eco-paints that are beautiful, healthy, durable and affordable like the synthetics at https://urinedrugtesthq.com/. You can also visit Drug Treatment Finders they can help you from addiction recovery right a way.

natural non-toxic paintOur homes contain hundreds of square feet of painted surfaces, and most of them are covered with petrochemical products. Even the latest “no-VOC” paints contain chemical compounds that are bad for the environment in their production, disposal and for occupants during their lifespan on our walls. Fortunately, there is an exciting array of paints that are made from all-natural materials, and that are non-toxic and biodegradable.

In this workshop, you will learn about a wide range of commercially available paint options, including clay, lime, casein and natural oil paints.

The workshop will cover sourcing paints and ingredients, preparing surfaces (including surfaces that have already been painted) and mixing paints and pigments. You will have the opportunity to apply numerous paints to different surfaces and learn the techniques for working with natural paints.

After this workshop, you will be able to redecorate your existing home or plan the finishes for a new home using only natural, healthy paints. For instance, you see cracks on your walls, doors, windows and you notice an uneven floor, consult with Global Reblocking & Underpinning in East Melbourne right away to re-block your house with a professional team.

Entry Requirements
Open to all

Fee
Regular – $35 plus $15 material fee

Maximum class size: 12

Repairing Clay Plaster (with toilet paper?…)

Questions concerning the durability of clay plaster – especially as an exterior plaster, and even more especially in cold and wet northern climates – get raised any time we suggest using clay plaster to a client. We recently had the experience of returning to the first building we clay plastered, back in 1994. What we saw and learned greatly increases our confidence in the use of clay plasters!

What do we mean by “durable?”
When we talk about durability, what do we really mean? Let’s say we’re comparing two kinds of exterior siding: clay plaster and vinyl siding. Intuitively, we’d probably say that the vinyl siding is more durable. But scratch the surface a bit… no material is indestructible, so what we really mean is “how long before it needs fixing or replacing.” Vinyl siding can last quite a long time before it wears out or breaks. But it does wear out and break, and when it does what can be done? Typically, nothing. It gets removed, taken to landfill, and replaced with new material.

The clay plaster may be more susceptible to wear (especially if it’s placed too close to the ground, as we’ll soon see!). But when it is damaged, it can be easily repaired at almost no cost and made as good as new, with no landfilling and no need for replacement.

Using Clay Properly
The first step in making clay plaster durable is to plan properly. The worst section of damage on this 12 year old home was next to the utility door on the north side. The building is way too close to grade… we recommend 8-12 inches minimum, but didn’t do that here. It was also unprotected by a roof overhang… despite the whole building have wide overhangs, this northern corner protrudes out to be almost in-line with the roof. Two strikes! And yet, here in the worst possible scenario – with rain hitting it, snow piling against it and no sun striking it to help dry it out – the plaster was still intact and still protecting the bales, it just didn’t look pretty anymore. Other places on this building saw some cracking, a result of not using enough fiber in the mix. Our clay plasters have for years now featured high quantities of fiber and we’ve avoided these kinds of cracks.

Getting the repairs going
We addressed the two areas that had seen a fair bit of erosion with new clay plaster. But clay plaster mix is terrible for filling cracks… the large aggregate and high fiber content that make for great plaster also makes for a mix that does not want to be pushed into long, narrow cracks.

Even though we opened up all the cracks with a pallet knife, the openings were nowhere near the size needed to push in an actual plaster mix. In fact, a mix with almost any aggregate (sand) in it does a lousy job. Even if it fills the crack adequately, there is always sandy mix left on the surface of the plaster calling attention to the repair forever after. And if we used straight clay, the shrinkage would be extreme and there would be micro-cracking along the crack.

Toilet paper to the rescue!
As we contemplated how to make a mix that would adhere to the existing clay, but would have such a fine aggregate that it could be wiped off the surface, we started to think about cellulose… little paper fibers that would be very fine but still add a lot of strength to the repair mix.

Earthen plaster repairs

Toilet paper provided the cellulose fiber we needed, and mixed in the blender with clay (and a bit of talc) created a smooth mix!

We came up with a highly scientific formula: 6 arm-spans of toilet paper (two-ply) to 2 cups of clay, with a bit of talc powder and water to the desired consistency. What we got was a sticky mix that was easy to work into cracks, that bonded well with the existing clay, didn’t shrink at all and was very easy to work with!

We were able to fill all the cracks to their full depth using a putty knife and pulling back and forth across the crack until it wouldn’t accept any more material. Then one pass with the putty knife left the surface scraped back cleanly to the original plaster.

Low impact repairs… like, really low impact!
The materials we needed to do all the repair work were right on site. The clay that had been leftover from the initial plastering in 2004 was left in a small mound near the house. Slowly, that mound became a “garden” of sorts. We were able to shovel clay from the back side of the pile and leave the garden undisturbed. Some natural pigment, some sand (and some TP in the cracks)… that’s all that was required.


I don’t think we could even calculate a carbon footprint or embodied energy for these repairs!

Mixing and applying a new clay paint
The largest area of the house had a red clay paint applied 12 years ago. There were enough cracks and repairs on this section that we decided to re-coat it with a coarse clay paint. We mixed 20 parts of the site clay with 10 parts of fine sand and 3 parts of pigment, and applied this runny mix using a sponge float.

A wetter mix with only 3 parts of fine sand was brushed onto the narrower bands of colour at the top of the wall. It was easy to cut a smooth line with this paint, making for crisp lines between the colour bands.

Fast work, faster next time
There were enough areas that needed attention on this house that we decided to completely re-paint the whole building. From first arrival at the site to colour matching the mixes to application and final clean-up, we spent a total of 3 days for 2 people (about 42 hours) on these repairs.
When this plaster needs work again in the future, there will be a paint mix in all three colours ready to be re-hydrated and applied. And since the colours match, spot repairs can be done instead of a whole new coat. If we’d been smart enough to do this the first time around, we could have cut the time for the job in half! We don’t expect cracks to re-open again, as no new cracks opened up on the building after the first couple of years.

A final layer of protection
One of the reasons we feel this clay plaster held up so well – despite being a less than ideal mix placed too close to the ground – was the inclusion of a top-coat of Primasil, a silicate paint primer from PermaTint.

Though it isn’t intended to be used as a “clear coat” finish, we have applied it this way on several buildings and it has done a great job of protecting the plaster from water damage while remaining highly permeable. In the future we will experiment with adding PrimaSil to our finish plasters and clay paints instead of water and see if building the silicate right into the material has a positive effect.

An endlessly repairable finish
The beauty of clay plaster is its ability to be maintained and repaired indefinitely. We had no waste from these repairs other than some sand and clay on the ground, and we had no expense other than a bit of pigment and a roll of toilet paper. And the pigment will be suitable for about a century’s worth of repairs of this extent! Now the plaster is once again gorgeous to look at and ready to handle another decade or two of keeping out the elements… Try doing that with vinyl (or anything else!).

Product Review: Allback Linseed Stain Wax

At Endeavour, we are kind of obsessed with finding good-quality, non-toxic finishes for common household surfaces. Many homes have a lot of wood surfaces, and it can be particularly difficult to find non-toxic finishes for wood.

Allback is a Swedish company that specializes in making organic linseed oil paint products. We’ve used numerous of their products, purchased in Canada from Solvent-Free Paint. For a recent shelving project, we decided to try the Allback Linseed Oil Wax.

This product contains organic linseed oil and natural beeswax mixed with a variety of different pigment colours. We chose the white colour, but there are about 8 colour options in this product line.

Application is very simple. The oil-wax is rubbed onto the surface of the wood, allowed to sit for at least 30 minutes, and then rubbed back with a lint-free cloth. In the end, we used a buffing pad on an electric polisher to do the rubbing back, as this also buffs the wax to a nice finish. That’s it! One coat, and the wood is well-protected, with a bit of wood grain showing through.

We were very happy with the quality of the finish, and within 24 hours water will bead on the surface and typical kitchen stains wipe off without leaving a mark.

The product comes in a 7 ounce jar for $15 (one jar did our entire project with some left over), or a 1 liter pail for $59.

This is a wood finish that we would highly recommend!

Why We Love Earthen Floors

Take one step – especially with bare feet – on an earthen floor and chances are you will be sold on the idea. You will want an earthen floor of your own. And not only will you be making happy feet when you choose an earthen floor, you’ll be making one of the most radical-yet-simple sustainable building choices… one that could dramatically reduce the environmental impacts of the built environment in a meaningful way.

earthen floor workshop and how-to

Clay, sand, fiber… that’s it!

A true game-changer
With the construction industry touting just about every option as being “eco-friendly” these days, it can be hard to know what choices really do make a difference. Earthen floors are a truly eco-friendly option. Using just four basic, natural, chemical-free and abundant materials that are minimally processed on site, an earthen floor creates a durable, healthy finished floor with the lowest possible environmental impacts. Mix the right proportions of clay, sand, natural fibers and drying oils and you’ll have a floor that is as beautiful as it is planet-friendly. The embodied energy of a 3/4″ thick earthen floor is 0.16 MJ/square foot, a tiny fraction compared to 3 MJ/square foot for hardwood, linoleum and concrete flooring of the same thickness, and 10-25 MJ/square foot for tile.

Really, a dirt floor?
It is often difficult for anybody in the “developed” world to consider an earthen floor as part of a clean, modern home. But earthen floors can be the visual showpiece of a home. A well-made earthen floor is a thing of beauty, bringing a texture and visual impact that cannot be replicated with any other material. Natural clay colours or natural pigments offer a wide palette, and a variety of fiber options can be used to great effect. And then there are the oil finishes which can add a rich lustre and additional colour options.

Are hearten floors durable?
Earthen floors are not a common option, and therefore most people do not have experience with seeing an earthen floor wear over time. In fact, these floors have very similar wear characteristics as most other natural floor materials like wood, bamboo and linoleum. All of these floor types can have a long lifespan under typical use conditions, although all are susceptible to scratching and gouging if mistreated, and all will require occasional refinishing to protect and enhance the surface of the material. Earthen floors are no different, and are quite easy to repair and refinish should some damage occur. I witnessed the earthen floor at Arts Centre Hastings spend a night under water after a large cooler full of melted ice broke, and yet after mopping up the spill the floor was not affected at all!

Place them wisely in the building
Though durable, it is wise to place them appropriately. Entryways, especially those that will see a lot of salt from snowy boots, can stress an earthen floor. Areas which will see a lot of dragging of chairs and furniture may not be appropriate. But if the use of the floor is for interior foot traffic, they hold up very well. Better see here lafurniturestore.com Design Center location sales in Los Angeles.

How does it work?
The clay/sand/fiber mix of an earthen floor may not seem like an ideal combination in a heavy-wearing scenario like a floor. These elements combine to make a substrate that can be easily packed and levelled. A typical earthen floor mix is 1 part of clay, 4 parts of sand, and 1 part of finely chopped fiber. As clays and clay soils can have different properties, it is always good to experiment with new materials before pouring an entire floor. Once this mix has been poured and troweled level, it is allowed to dry. Then the real magic occurs: several coats (anywhere from 2-6) of natural oil finish is applied to the floor. The oil penetrates into the clay/sand mixture and hardens around it, creating a tight and water-resistant finish that is very durable. The process is similar to natural linoleum, where linseed oil is mixed with sawdust. As with linoleum, the result is surprisingly solid.

Where can an earthen floor be used?
Earthen floors can be laid over many typical floor bases, including concrete slabs and plywood sub-floors. As

earthen floor clay floor how-to

A living room with a wood stove is a great place for an earthen floor

long as the floor base is stable and doesn’t have excessive flex or deflection, then an earthen floor can be laid. Typical thickness for a finished earthen floor is 3/4″, though it is possible to make them thicker. The floors can be laid over hydronic heating tubes, or used under wood stoves or other sources of heat. Simple substrate preparations are used if the base is either very smooth and shiny or if it is water absorbent.

It’s easy to learn to make an earthen floor
The steps involved in mixing, laying and finishing an earthen floor are very straightforward. If you think an earthen floor might be in your future, you can check out our upcoming earthen floor workshop, where you’ll get a chance to mix, pour, level and finish a complete earthen floor.

All About Natural Paint

There is no easier or better place to shift away from toxic petrochemicals and move to using natural, non-toxic options than with the paint we put on our walls.

Anybody Can (and Should) Do This
We hear from many people who wish they could build a home with natural materials, but because they live in an existing home they seem to feel there is no way for them to use natural materials. But using natural paints is something that anybody can do, at any time, in any home, and on any wall surface. And the benefits are profound. In terms of your family’s health, it can be better to have a non-natural home painted with natural finishes than to have a natural home painted with toxic petrochemicals. Natural paints are also better for the planet.

Why Not Just Use No-VOC Paint?
By all appearances, the paint industry seems to be getting “greener.” So why not just choose a good no-VOC paint and use that? Turns out, there are quite a few reasons. Firstly, paints labelled as “Low-VOC” or “No-VOC” are far from being non-toxic. Secondly, the petrochemical paint industry has a huge environmental and carbon footprint.

The Dirty Secret About No-VOC Paintdisturbing paint facts
The impetus to reduce the quantities of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from paints actually had nothing to do with human health concerns. VOC reductions were imposed on the paint industry because they contributed to smog, and only those VOCs that directly contribute to low-level ozone production are covered by these regulations. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the body that first imposed VOC restrictions, has this to say after testing a range of paints that qualify as low-VOC and finding surprisingly high concentrations of VOCs:

“EPA Reference Method 24 is probably not an adequate method for measuring the VOC content of low-VOC latex paints. …Current bulk analysis and emission test results showed that the VOC contents of low-VOC latex paints are well within the uncertainty range of Method 24, and the method is apparently not precise enough to accurately define the VOC content of those paints.” –Inside IAQ EPA/600/N-98/003

What If It’s Labelled as “Green”
There are some labelling programs that do ensure acrylic (commonly called “latex”) paints are less harmful to occupants. However, the most common labels do not. GreenGuard and Ecologo are the labels most commonly seen in paint stores. They are administered by Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL). Here’s what that standard has to say about its commitment to human health:

“1.14 While this practice lists specific chemicals and associated maximum allowable concentrations, as required by criteria indoor air procedures and specifications, it does not assess the human risk involved with use of the materials either as an installer and/or as an end user.” –UL 2821

green seal logoIf you want to trust a label, find paints certified by GreenSeal GS-11. This is the only standard I can find that actually excludes a wide range of toxic chemicals and has a direct concern for human health.

And Even If It’s Got a Good Green Label…

Despite the fact that they are called “water-based,” all acrylic paints are made from petrochemicals. Coatings consumption worldwide reached 80 billion pounds and $120 billion in value in 2013, according to “Global Paint & Coatings, 2013-2018,” by polymer and chemical market researchers Kusumgar, Nerlfi & Growney. That means that our use of petrochemical paint carries with it the same environmental impacts as any use of crude oil. Don’t like offshore drilling, oil sands, pipelines, greenhouse gas emissions, oil spills, etc? Every time we use acrylic paint, we contribute to all those impacts.

The embodied energy and embodied carbon emissions of acrylic paint are also very high. Using data from the Inventory of Carbon and Energy V2.0, the paint needed to coat the interior of a typical 2,000 square foot home (primer and two coats of finish) would use about 7,300 megajoules (MJ) of energy to produce, and emit 303 kg of carbon dioxides (or equivalents). That’s the energy in 1.5 barrels of crude oil or 61 gallons of gasoline required to paint every home, and somewhere in the neighbourhood of the same weight in CO2 emissions as the combined weights of the home’s inhabitants!

Now the Good News!
Don’t want to inhale toxic chemicals or contribute to oil spills and climate change? The good news is that there are plenty of accessible, affordable and practical paint options available that are non-toxic and low-impact. Most of the paint manufacturers listed here provide full disclosure of their ingredient lists, meaning that there are no hidden toxins. All have been recommended by people with chemical sensitivities.

Natural paints come in a number of different categories, based on the type of binder they use, and each type of paint has a range of different surfaces it may be used on:

Natural Oil Paints

  • Drying oils (linseed, sunflower, tung, etc) polymerize when exposed to air
  • Some natural oil paints are emulsified with water
  • Indoor & outdoor use
  • Used on almost any substrate

Although many people will have an initial negative reaction to the idea of “oil paints,” these bad associations are from very toxic petrochemical oil paints. Natural oil paints are a whole different breed. The emulsified oil paints are the most straightforward natural paints to use, and give results that are consistent with modern petrochemical paints. Washable, durable and tinted to any available colours, these paints can be used to replace conventional acrylic and alkyd paints with no change to expectations about application, coverage and durability. All the brands we’ve used are non-toxic and fully bio-degradable. Most can be obtained in just about any imaginable tint.

Auro Wall Paint, available in Canada from Tockay
Allback Linseed Oil Paint available in Canada from Living Rooms
AFM Safecoat Naturals available in Canada from Living Rooms
Kreidezeit Wall Paint, available in Canada from Tockay

Lime Paints

  • Calcium carbonate binder, often with additional natural binders
  • Indoor use (outdoor use for lime washes)
  • Most wall substrates, surface prep may be req’d

Lime paints have been used for thousands of years, and the modern versions are excellent products that can be used on most wall surfaces. Naturally anti-septic, these paints come in a variety of textures from quite smooth to quite grainy. They add a depth and beauty that is hard to explain but is immediately obvious upon seeing them. They are durable and do not wash away with water. They are an excellent choice for any wall that receives light to heavy contact, and are available in a wide range of colours.

Kreidezeit Lime Paint, available in Canada from Tockay
Auro Lime Paint, available in Canada from Tockay

Clay Paints

Non-toxic paints

Kreidezeit clay paint can be brushed or rolled onto wall surfaces primed with a casein primer

  • Natural clay binder, often with additional natural binders
  • Indoor use only
  • Most wall substrates, surface prep may be req’d

Clay paints are the champions of low-impact and low-toxicity. The fact that they are gorgeous to look at is an additional bonus! A variety of grain sizes and tints are available. They are durable (no dusting, will not brush off the wall) but are not washable. They can handle some direct wetting, but will wash off with scrubbing or constant abrasion. Good for use on any wall that does not receive direct wetting or a lot of touching/contact.

Kreidezeit Clay Paint, available in Canada from Tockay

Casein Paints

  • Milk or vegetable casein binder, often with additional natural binders
  • Indoor use only
  • Most wall substrates, wood

Casein paints can be made from vegetable or milk casein. Similar to the clay paints, they are capable of dealing with some wetting and abrasion, but shouldn’t be used in places where this will happen consistently. A wide variety of tints are available. They can be used on walls, and also on raw wood.

Homestead House Milk Paint, available from Homestead House
Kreidezeit Vegetable Casein Paint, available from Tockay

Mineral Paints

Non-toxic paint

Eco-House silicate dispersion paint can be used on interior and exterior mineral surfaces

  • Potassium or sodium silicate (“waterglass”)
  • Indoor & outdoor use
  • Mineral substrates only (plaster, brick, concrete, etc)

Silicate dispersion paints are unique in that they don’t coat a surface, they mineralize onto the mineral surface and become an integral part of the surface. This makes them extremely durable. We use them a lot as a finish for exterior plasters, where they have the Goretex-like effect of protecting walls from bulk water penetration, but maintain the permeability of the plaster. They can be used indoors or outdoors on any surface that is mineral-based, including clay & lime plasters, concrete, brick, stucco and stone. They come in a wide range of colours, and colour matching is available.

Eco-House Silicate Dispersion Paint, available in Canada from Perma-Tint

Non-toxic Clean-up
One of the unsung benefits of using any of these paints is that they are all biodegradable. Even the “cleanest” conventional paints have a petrochemical base that ends up in waterways or in soil during cleanup, with an aggregate of thousands of gallons entering the ecosystem annually. Natural paints clean easily and the wash water can safely go into septic systems or onto the ground.

So Many Viable Options
All of the paints listed here are products that we have used with excellent results. Each type of paint has specific uses and surfaces, meaning there is no surface in or on a home that cannot be treated with a natural paint. Costs tend to be slightly higher than mid-range conventional paints, and in line with higher-end conventional options. None of these paints are unaffordable, and the slight extra cost is a small price to pay to be surrounded by non-toxic surfaces that are not off-gassing into your home, and did not have a deep impact on the environment. A worthy investment for any home!

Want to Try These Paints?
Endeavour’s Eco-Paints workshop is a day long opportunity to learn all about natural paints, and to actually use all of the paints mentioned above.

The Art and Science of Natural Plaster DVD Now Available

The Art and Science of Natural Plaster is a 140-minute DVD created to help homeowners figure out how to use natural plasters on their own projects, created and narrated by Chris Magwood of Endeavour Centre. Speaking of homeowners, cedar management group’s association is included in the mooresville top hoa management list. Their service includes reliable solutions for commercial and residential properties in North and South Carolina so if you’re interested, visit their website. The DVD is now available for purchase through PlasterScience.com in hard copy or online streaming formats.

Produced by Bart Glumineau, a graduate of Endeavour’s Sustainable New Construction program in 2013, and co-founder of PossibleMedia.org, creating original video content to share the stories of individuals and groups of people who are actively engaged in creating a better, more sustainable future.

The DVD covers base coat and finish coat mixes and applications that are suitable for a wide range of sustainable and conventional wall surfaces, from cob and straw bale to drywall. Chapters include:

  • Introduction to Plaster
  • Types of Plaster
  • Substrates and Substrate Preparation
  • Mixing
  • Tools and Trowels
  • Body Coat Application
  • Finish Coat Application
  • Paints, Washes and Sealants
  • Repair and Maintenance of Plasters

Much of the hands-on footage for the DVD was filmed at Endeavour’s 2014 project, a straw bale office building for the local teachers’ union.

We are excited to have some of our teaching and methodology presented in an accessible video format, and hope that the DVD inspires more people to take up natural plastering on new builds and renovation projects!

Eco-Paints: Understanding and Using Healthy House Paint

Saturday, September 24, 2016
9.30 am to 4.30 pm
Endeavour Centre, Peterborough

Instructor: Jen Feigin & Chris Magwood

Workshop Description:

Learn how to make and use a wide range of natural, non-toxic eco-paints that are beautiful, healthy, durable and affordable.

natural non-toxic paintOur homes contain hundreds of square feet of painted surfaces, and most of them are covered with petrochemical products. Even the latest “no-VOC” paints contain chemical compounds that are bad for the environment in their production, disposal and during their lifespan on our walls. Fortunately, there is an exciting array of paints that are made from all-natural materials, and that are completely non-toxic and biodegradable.

In this workshop, you will learn about a wide range of commercially available paint options, including clay, lime, casein and natural oil paints, as well discover recipes for making your own versions of these paints.

The workshop will cover sourcing paints and ingredients, preparing surfaces (including surfaces that have already been painted) and mixing paints and pigments. You will have the opportunity to apply numerous paints to different surfaces and learn the techniques for working with natural paints.

After this workshop, you will be able to redecorate your existing home or plan the finishes for a new home using only natural, healthy paints.

Entry Requirements
Open to all

Fee
Early Bird – $125
Regular – $150
Fees include healthy lunch (vegan and vegetarian options available)

Maximum class size: 12

Natural Finishes for Canada’s Greenest Home

Natural paint, milk paint, natural oil paint, lime paint, clay paint

A wide range of natural, non-toxic finishes were used in Canada’s Greenest Home

One of the goals of the Canada’s Greenest Home project is to show that a very green home can be built by any contractor with the desire to do so. As part of that goal, we made sure that we used no products that contained toxic chemicals or off gassing compounds, and sourced all of those products from accessible manufacturers. While we love and support the use of homemade paints and finishes, we did not want to make building a non-toxic home appear to rely on kitchen chemistry.

Fortunately, the past few years have seen a wide range of non-toxic paints and finishes introduced by reputable manufacturers. While most of these are not available through regular building supply outlets, they are easily available to anybody with an interest in finding and using them.

Kreidezeit Clay, Lime and Casein Paint

Kreidezeit clay paint in foyer

Kreidezeit natural clay paint gives a beautiful texture and lustre

Kreidezeit is a German company that has formulated some excellent natural finishing products, containing no VOCs and no petrochemicals. Their products are available in Canada through Tockay Distribution. We used three of Kreidezeit’s products: clay paint, lime paint and vegetable casein paint. We found each of them easy to use and very well formulated. Application was straightforward and coverage was complete with two coats. The lime paint was rolled onto the walls, while the clay and casein paint were brushed on. All three give rich, lively finishes, with just enough texture to distinguish themselves from more conventional paints.

The paints apply to most common interior materials, including drywall and plaster. The paints all require the use of Kreidezeit’s vegetable casein primer, which can be brushed or rolled onto raw surfaces, or over existing paints and finishes. The clay and casein paints come in powdered form and require mixing with water. The lime paint comes in liquid form. A range of standard colours are available, or the paints can be custom tinted with natural pigments available from Kreidezeit.

We were very impressed by these products, especially the clay paint (pictured). It gives a finish that closely resembles the warmth of clay plaster, but with the simplicity of a paint.

Auro Lime Paint

Auro natural lime paint

The white Auro lime paint has a lightly textured surface that works well with natural light

Auro lime paint is a completely natural, non-toxic finish that comes in several different texture options, from a fine and highly polished “tadelakt” version up to a fairly grainy and textured version. We chose a lightly grainy texture, and mixed the white base paint with a natural pigment supplied by Auro (in Canada from Tockay). While a primer is available for this paint, we brushed it directly to raw drywall in two coats with excellent results.

The paint is quite thick, and adding water changes the texture on the wall. Brush marks are quite visible in the final finish, and we used a patterned brush stroke to highlight the texture. Coverage is excellent and the final finish is beautiful in natural or artificial light.

AFM Safecoat Naturals

AFM Safecoat Naturals paint

AFM Safecoat Naturals can replace conventional latex paints in every way

AFM Safecoat has been manufacturing a range of non-toxic finishes for many years. Their recent “Naturals” line of organic, plant-based finishes are completely bio-degradable. These natural oil paints were a very exciting discovery, as they represent the most accessible and affordable replacement for conventional latex paints. They can be colour matched in non-toxic tints to any colour available in conventional paints, come in ready-to-use cans just like regular paints, and are virtually indistinguishable from regular paints in terms of use and application. They are only fractionally more expensive than conventional paints. We obtained our AFM paint from Living Rooms.

As a natural oil paint, there is a slight amount of odour with the Naturals, though not nearly as strong as we were expecting from an oil paint. Drying times match that of latex paints, with surfaces dry to the touch with an hour or two and able to be re-coated same day or next day. A flat or a pearl lustre are available.

Unlike conventional latex paints, there are absolutely no toxins in these paints, and while the finish is highly durable and washable, it also remains permeable to moisture migration, making it suitable for use on vapour-open wall systems like our straw bale walls.

The range of products from AFM is proof positive that it is possible to make products that meet all the expectations of conventional, petrochemical-based and toxic products in a healthy, planet-friendly version. There is no reason that anybody building or remodelling shouldn’t abandon the tins of chemical soup for AFM Naturals.

Mythic Paint

Mythic non-toxic paint

Mythic Paint is just like conventional acrylic/latex paints, minus the toxic ingredients.

For those who wish to take a step in a greener direction but don’t want to “go too far” (though with all the options available, I’m not sure why), Mythic Paint offers non-toxic acrylic (latex) paints that are just like all the conventional paint options but minus the toxic contents. We obtained our Mythic Paints from The Healthiest Home.

Nobody using Mythic paints would realize that they weren’t using a normal, widely-available, no-VOC paint. Coverage, application, drying time and coloration are all indistinguishable from conventional paints. While these paints still use a petrochemical base, the company claims that there are absolutely no toxins and no off gassing. They can be used in any situation where conventional acrylic/latex paints are suitable.

The cost is only fractionally higher than standard paints, and less than high-end acrylics. The paints come in all lustres.

Allback Linseed Oil Paint

Allback linseed oil paint is from Sweden, and the company has a special process by which they purify linseed oil to make a highly stable and durable paint. This type of paint has been used for hundreds of years, with Allback’s purification process updating the traditional recipe into something that is predictable and long-lasting.

We used the Allback paint as an exterior wood finish. As a straight linseed oil paint, it has a very strong odour. While this odour is not considered a dangerous VOC, it is unpleasant enough and long-lasting enough to discourage us from using it indoors. As an outdoor finish, however, it works well on raw wood (and the company claims it can also be used on metal, plastics, plasters and masonry).

Our Allback products come from Living Rooms. There is a limited colour palette available, though the existing colours are very attractive.

The paint was easy to apply, but takes a relatively long time to dry (up to 2-3 days). We have been happy with the results, but this is definitely a product that takes some patience and understanding. If you want to have an extremely natural and durable exterior finish, this comes highly recommended, but be aware that it is not as easy to work with as its petrochemical counterparts.

Switching to Natural Finishes

All of the natural finishes we used meet remarkably high standards for non-toxicity, which alone should be recommendation enough for everybody to start using them. The fact that they are also relatively easy to apply and create attractive, durable finishes make them well worth sourcing for any builder looking to make an environmental difference in a project.

So far, all of these finishes have been holding up to the rigours of daily use, and the bumps and thumps of moving day left few traces behind. We will continue to report on the durability of these finishes, but to date we have nothing but positive feedback to report.

Tadelakt Plastering

February 13-14, 2016

August 27-28, 2016
9.30 am to 4.30 pm
Endeavour Centre, Peterborough

Note: This workshop is being offered twice in 2016. Be sure to register for the correct date.

Workshop Instructor: Mike Henry 

Workshop Description

Tadelakt is a natural plaster method that originates in Morocco and is the only type of natural plaster that is inherently waterproof, making it ideal for bathrooms, kitchens, showers, tubs and sinks. It is a beautiful plaster with an unequalled shiny finish and variegated colouring that is pleasing to the eye and to the touch.

 

This two-day immersion in tadelakt plastering will help beginners understand the materials and the techniques for making and applying tadelakt plaster. The workshop will show you how to source the materials required to make your own tadelakt mix, and how to make the mix and tint it.

The secret to tadelakt plastering is in the application. Applying tadelakt is a multi-stage process that requires patience and understanding of the material. On a real-world project, this workshop will introduce you to the tadelakt process and give you the chance to take a tadelakt project from start to shining finish.

Instructor Mike Henry is a natural builder, freelance writer and educator, and author of Ontario’s Old-Growth Forests. Since 2000, he has been a natural builder and plasterer with Camel’s Back Construction.

Entry Requirements
Open to all

Fee
Early Bird – $295
Regular – $350
Fees include healthy lunch (vegan and vegetarian options available)

Maximum class size: 12

 

Earth Floor Workshop Overview

Back in August, Endeavour was excited to present an earthen floor workshop with Sukita Reay Crimmel of Claylin. Sukita is a world leader in making modern clay floors, and she led a group of workshop participants in laying a floor at the home of Deirdre McGahern of Straworks.

This gallery gives a good overview of the process of making a clay floor and the workshop:

Earth floors have a come a long way over the past decade, and seeing the results of this workshop makes it obvious that clay floors are suitable in a wide variety of residential applications. We look forward to making many more!

If you’re interested in clay floors, check out Sukita’s new book, Earthen Floors: A Modern Approach to an Ancient Practice.

Clay Finish Plasters

Natural clay plaster finish at Canada's Greenest Home

Red wall almost finished

Natural clay finish plasters add an unparalleled beauty to any home, and it was exciting to apply these plasters to Canada’s Greenest Home this weekend.

These skim coat plasters can be applied over any wall surface. In this project, we used them over clay base coat plasters and over drywall.

The plasters are mixed on site using widely available and affordable materials. Clay, sand, calcium carbonate, pigment, flour paste and water are mixed together and applied to the wall by trowel in a single, thin coat (~1/8 inch).

Our typical formula is 10 parts clay, 4 parts sifted sand, 1 part calcium carbonate, 1 part flour paste (a natural glue/hardener) and ~3.5 parts water. Natural pigments are added to this mix by weight, based on trial samples made in advance. As with baking, the dry ingredients are mixed together and then added into the water, flour paster and pigment that have been blended.

The clay in this case is Tile 6 Kaolin, from a pottery supply store. We’ve used other kaolins and ball clays with similar results. Calcium carbonate is finely ground limestone, from Omya in Perth, Ontario. Flour paste is cooked by boiling 4 parts water and adding a mixture of 2 parts cold water and 1 part flour and boiling until thick. Our natural pigments come from Kama Pigments.

Helping us with the mixing and application was our good friend Mike Henry, a plasterer with Camel’s Back Construction. His attention to detail helps bring out the best in the clay plaster.

There is nothing like the depth, richness of colour, sound attenuation and warmth of a natural clay finish plaster!

Open House for Canada’s Greenest Home

Join us on Saturday, March 9, 10am – 4pm!

Canada's Greenest Home nears completion

Canada’s Greenest Home nears completion

 

We have attempted to build the most sustainable home possible, and want to share the results with you! Since April, 2012, the students and faculty of The Endeavour Centre have been working on creating a home that showcases the best in sustainable new construction, and we’re excited to open the doors and show you what we’ve created. Come and see a wide range of sustainable materials and systems, including straw bale walls, clay plasters, Durisol foundation, triple glazed windows, composting toilets, rainwater harvesting and treatment, air source heat pump, ERV, comprehensive energy monitoring, solar hot water, non-toxic finishes and much, much more
Progress Gallery
We hope you’ll come and take a tour at 136 1/2 James Street, Peterborough, Ontario
You can follow the progress of the entire project on our blog

Natural Whitewash is the First Finish at CGH

One of the most important features of Canada’s Greenest Home will be the use of nothing but non-toxic finishes for every surface in the home. Many of these will be home-made from natural ingredients. These non-toxic finishes will go a long way in ensuring that the home has a high level of indoor air quality, rather than the polluted air of most conventional new homes.

Natural finishes are an exciting part of this project because they are the most easily reproducible sustainable building element that a homeowner can apply to any new housing or renovation project. We hope the ideas and recipes we’ll post here will encourage more people to use natural finishes.

The whitewash we have used on the pine ceilings on the main floor of this home are a great example of a natural finish that is simple to make, non-toxic, durable and beautiful. Whitewashes have been used for centuries on wood and masonry surfaces, and bring a clean brightness to a room without affecting the moisture storage capability of the material or introducing any VOCs or petrochemicals to the building.

 

The whitewash recipe we used to achieve a semi-opaque whitewash on bare pine wood is:

1 part Casein powder
12 parts water
16 parts powdered hydrated lime

The water and casein were mixed 2-12 hours in advance and allowed to sit. The lime powder is then slowly added while stirring in a bucket with a drill mixer. The mixture will have some tendency to settle, and should be stirred frequently during application to ensure an even opacity. 1 gallon covers approximately 500-750 square feet per coat. We apply two coats to ensure an even coloration.

The amount of water can be varied to make a thinner or thicker paint, and pigment can be added to give tints. Without pigment, the colour is a bright white.

If powdered casein can’t be obtained easily, a similar recipe that will give good results can be made by mixing:

1 cup skim milk
90-120 grams of powdered hydrated lime

A good quality whitewash brush or thick paint brush with natural bristles will do the best job for applying this paint. On flat surfaces a roller could be used, but our V-groove ceiling required a brush to get into all the grooves.

This paint works so well because the casein molecule contains a powerful glue that is released when it reacts with the base nature of the lime, cracking open the casein molecule and allowing the glue to become a binder that securely bonds to the wood and the lime.

More natural finishes will follow!…

Tadelakt Workshop Wrap-Up

Our first workshop at Endeavour, Tadelakt and Advanced Lime Plastering, was a great success!

Tadelakt is a historical means of applying and treating lime plasters to make them waterproof. Originating in Morocco, the plasters are applied in successive thin layers, troweled smooth and then burnished with hard stones using an olive oil soap. The soap and the lime have a chemical reaction that creates the waterproofing. The soap and stone burnishing also creates a beautiful, glassy finish that is amazing to see and touch!

Over five days, instructor Ryan Chivers taught our group of intrepid plasterers a remarkable amount about lime and lime plastering. Here’s a quick look at what we covered in the workshop…

A Tadelakt Workshop Gallery
A Bit About Lime

The process of actually mixing the plaster is the same that we’ve experienced with clay and lime cement plasters. One of the best things Ryan taught us was that the need to “slake” lime into a putty is really not necessary with modern, Type S lime. Modern, north american limes are processed in such a way that they are fully hydrated at the manufacturer using heat and pressure. This greatly simplifies the process of working with lime plasters of all types as the weeks or months of slaking in water are eliminated. However, the plasters do want to be mixed at least a few hours before use as the lime does take some time to fully take up the water that’s been added. We mixed a day ahead of ourselves throughout the workshop.

 Applying Lime Plaster

Our first plastering was not tadelakt, but a finish lime plaster that was applied directly over painted drywall. The walls were prepared by painting on a mix of white glue and sand, which gave adhesion for the plaster. We then applied two very thin coats of lime. This system was very quick (a 12×15 room took about 1 hour for 2 people to apply, per coat). We’ll post finished pictures of the room once it’s all cured.

Practicing Tadelakt

Tadelakt is all about timing! You could read about doing tadelakt forever, but it’s all about timing, feel and doing the right thing at the right time. Luckily, Ryan was great at preparing us for what to expect at each stage. By practicing first on our tiles and cob balls, everybody began to understand the stages of tadelakt and how to know when it was time to move on.

Applying Tadelakt

We did one tadelakt wall in a “dry” area of the house. To be fully waterproof, the tadelakt must be done just right, so we had one wall that will not be exposed to direct water on which to practice. And it’s a good thing… it really does take a lot of practice (much more than one wall!) to get a feel for the technique.

Tadelakt Shower/Bathroom

Tadelakt is beautiful anywhere, but in bathrooms, showers and other wet areas it mixes beauty and functionality like no other natural material.

The timing for tadelakt gets more complex the more surface area there is to cover. In this bathroom, we had several different substrates under the tadelakt which all affected the timing, and we had many people applying, troweling, stoning and soaping. The result, however, is a wonderful, rich, shiny plaster!

In the end, the crew did an amazing job. We’ve all been promised a nice hot shower in the finished bathroom to appreciate our work!

We’ll post photos of the finished bathroom when it’s ready. The tadelakt takes 28 days to fully cure…

Our thanks to Ryan for teaching a terrific workshop and to all the participants for so much fun, hard work and learning together!

 

 

 

 

Making and Applying Your Own Natural Finish Plasters

October 22-23, 2016
9.30 am to 4.30 pm
Endeavour Centre, Peterborough

Instructors: Jen Feigin & Chris Magwood

Workshop Description

You can make your own natural finish plasters to bring the beauty and benefits of natural building to any home, whether renovating a single room or building a new home..

These homemade clay and lime plasters can be applied on any typical wall surface, including drywall (painted or new) and plasters or masonry of all kinds. The plasters are made from easily obtainable, affordable natural materials and can be mixed and applied at home in a vast range of colours and textures.

 

Natural clay or lime plasters add a dimension to a room unobtainable with any other finish. In addition to their inherent beauty, they are non-toxic and can help regulate humidity in a room. They are durable and repairable and the best way to make your home a more natural, warmer and healthier place.

In this workshop, you will learn how to source the required materials, prepare wall surfaces for plastering, mix and tint plasters and apply to wall surfaces. During the workshop, you will create a series of sample boards in the colours of your choice to take home to help make plaster choices for your own home/project.

Entry Requirements
Open to beginners and experienced plasterers

Fee
Early Bird- $295
Regular – $350
Fee includes healthy lunch (vegetarian and vegan options available)

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